Google changed the settings on Android phones without their owners' permission

A decade ago, Steve Jobs admitted in an interview that Apple had the means to remotely kill core functionalities and apps on iOS devices. Apple purportedly made this possible to ensure that their hardware could not be taken over with malicious apps. I remember being very not OK with this, at the time. But over the years, I completely forgot about it.

Until this week.

From The Verge:

Yesterday a mix of people who own Google Pixel phones and other devices running Android 9 Pie noticed that the software’s Battery Saver feature had been switched on — seemingly all by itself. And oddly, this was happening when the phones were near a full charge, not when the battery was low. As reported by Android Police, initially it was assumed that this was some kind of minor bug in the latest version of Android, which was only released a few weeks ago. Some users thought they might’ve just enabled Battery Saver without realizing.

But it was actually Google at fault.

The company posted a message on Reddit last night acknowledging “an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended.” So Google had remotely — and accidentally — changed a phone setting for a bunch of real-world customers.

Not cool.

Sure, you can argue that it was an honest mistake made by Google's OS development team: they hadn't meant to screw with Android Pie users' handsets. Hell, as soon as it happened, Google hit the interwebz to admit to the mistake. Read the rest

iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max: A Closer First Look [PHOTOS]

At the big Apple Event in Cupertino today, the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max were touted as 'the best and biggest displays' yet for iPhone. Read the rest

Apple iPhone XR: A Closer First Look [PHOTOS]

At the big Apple Event today in Cupertino, a new iPhone was revealed. Here are official photos we received from Apple, for a closer look. Read the rest

Apple's new iPhones: Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Pre-orders start Friday. (photos)

Apple's big launch event took place in Cupertino today, and here are the big products to track: iPhone Xs, Xr, Xs, Max, and the Apple Watch Series 4. Pre-order begins this Friday. Read the rest

'IG Shopping'? Instagram is building a dedicated shopping app, per reports

There will be a new Instagram app sometime soon that's all about shopping, reports The Verge. Read the rest

California lawmakers vote to make electricity emissions-free by 2045

“This is a pivotal moment for California, for the country, and the world.”

On Tuesday, California state lawmakers passed SB100, a major bill that would commit to making the state’s electricity supply completely emissions-free by the year 2045. SB100 passed 43-32. Read the rest

Waymo self-driving vans having "trouble turning left"

The Information reports that Google's self-driving automobile division is having trouble making progress. Among the key problems: its vehicles have trouble turning left at intersections.

The article is paywalled, but Amir Efrati sums it up: "The truth about Waymo in suburban Phoenix starts here, at a T intersection at East Fairview St. and South 56 St., the closest one to Waymo’s vehicle depot in Chandler. Waymo’s vans sometimes have trouble finding a gap in traffic to turn left, frustrating people who say they get stuck behind them." Read the rest

Fire breaks out at Tesla factory with 'history of frequent fires' reported

Tesla's Fremont, California factory is said to be running normally again, after a fire broke out Thursday around 5:20PM. No flamethrowers involved. Read the rest

Twitter invaded by astroturf army of Amazon-branded happy warehouse workers

If Amazon itself unleashed this astroturf army of Twitter personae to defend its employment practices, it goes immediately into the pantheon of corporate-brain PR disasters. If it's someone else, it's a insightful ploy targeting Amazon's reputation and the expectations of those who might assume it's real. Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch:

After Flamboyant Shoes Guy called out the phenomenon, I found 15 accounts (please don’t abuse them — they get enough of that already). All with “Amazon smiles” as their backgrounds and several with animals as profile pictures. All have the same bio structure: “(Job titles) @(warehouse shorthand location). (Duration) Amazonian. (2- or 3-item list of things they like.)” All have “FC Ambassador” in their name. All have links to an Amazon warehouse tour service.

Update: They're real and getting paid by Amazon. Yikes. Read the rest

Tech platforms quit Alex Jones and InfoWars

Apple has joined Facebook, Spotify and YouTube in tossing Alex Jones and InfoWars material from their platforms.

Apple has removed the entire library for five of Infowars' six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcast apps, BuzzFeed News has learned. Among the podcasts, which were removed from Apples' iTunes directory, are the show "War Room" as well as the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily by the prominent conspiracy theorist.

The Guardian:

Facebook has banned four pages run by the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday. The removal of the pages – the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page – comes after Facebook imposed a 30-day ban on Jones personally “for his role in posting violating content to these pages”.

Until recent days, tech platforms found it hard to understand why they shouldn't support Jones, a conspiracy theorist who claimed that the Sandy Hook parents were paid actors, that 9/11 was perpretrated not by Al Queda but by "globalists", and that the government is poisoning children to make them gay.

The public is growing keenly aware that Silicon Valley's supposed free-speech principles are not only self-serving but plainly up for sale, so there's little point supporting someone whose makes them look this bad. Read the rest

Apple is world's first publicly traded company worth $1tn

A 3 percent climb in share price made Apple the world's first trillion-dollar publicly-traded company.

Apple’s ascent from the brink of bankruptcy to the world’s most valuable public company has been a business tour de force, marked by rapid innovation, a series of smash-hit products and the creation of a sophisticated, globe-spanning supply chain that keeps costs down while producing enormous volumes of cutting-edge devices.

That ascent has also been marked by controversy, tragedy and challenges. Apple’s aggressive use of outside manufacturers in China, for example, has led to criticism that it is taking advantage of poorly paid workers in other countries and robbing Americans of good manufacturing jobs. The company faces numerous questions about how it can continue to grow.

Gas giant Saudi Aramco has twice Apple's revenues and is valued at up to $2tn. But you can't buy yourself a chunk of it—not yet, anyway. Read the rest

Twitter stock drops 20.5% a day after Facebook suffers worst one-day drop in history

Twitter's stock closed 20.5% on Friday after the company announced it lost 1 million active users. More user loss is predicted. Read the rest

Big tech stocks tumble

Facebook's down 20% and Twitter's down 14%, for reasons that everyone now says are obvious.

But the same pundit class was boosting them until reality bit:

One of the funny things about news aggregators, and filtered feeds in general (as opposed to chronological ones) is how they hide time and change and make everything seem immediate. Yesterday's confident bullshit gets posed against today's naked truth, competing with it until no-one's left who believes anything there. Read the rest

Your Samsung smartphone is sharing photos without your permission

Do you own a Samsung smartphone? Do you take photos with said phone? Congratulations, there’s an excellent chance that your handset is randomly firing off those pictures you’ve snapped to folks on your contact list without your permission.

According to The Verge, the images are being pushed out by Samsung’s cleverly named default messaging app, Samsung Messages. If the fact that your phone might be sending out all of the images its got in storage for the world to see isn’t enough of a shit and giggle for you, try this one on for size: Samsung Messages reportedly doesn’t even bother to tell you that the operation has been completed. Unless the person who received the photos lets you know that it happened, you’ll be completely in the dark about the fact that the photos were uploaded.

From The Verge:

Some users are speculating that this issue has to do with the push of RCS messaging updates, including T-Mobile, which is the carrier for at least one of the affected phones. T-Mobile just issued its RCS update this week, starting with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The messaging standard is supposed to make texting look more like chatting in a modern messaging app, complete with read receipts and typing indicators. When reached for comment, a T-Mobile spokesperson told The Verge to “check in with Samsung on this, it’s not a T-Mobile issue.”

Until carriers and Samsung get this nightmare sorted out, the best way to keep your handset from sharing your photos with the world is to revoke Samsun Messenger’s access rights to your smartphone’s photos folder. Read the rest

The Montague Paratrooper Pro is the best damn bike I've ever owned

When you live full-time in a motorhome, no matter how big it is, there’s not a lot of room for extras. In order to have enough space to be comfortable, its necessary to strip your belongings down to the essentials. A library full of books gives way to e-readers and tablets. Full-sized anything? You’re gonna want to swap it out for a compact model or, better still, a version of it designed to collapse down to a smaller size to store when its not in use. My Montague Paratrooper Pro mountain bike does that. I love it.

Bike designer David Montague put together the original Paratrooper folding mountain bike for the U.S. Military. It was designed to accompany parachutists out the door of a flying airplane and, once on the ground, be used to get the soldier riding it to an objective far more rapidly than if the approach were made on foot. I’d known about these bikes for years. I was obsessed with them. Moving into an RV gave me an excuse to finally get one: it’s a full-sized bike that collapses down small enough that I can stow it in one of our rig’s basement compartments, out of site and out of mind.

The bike I ride, the Paratrooper Pro, comes with a few bells and whistles that the original Montague Paratrooper lacks. It’s front forks can be locked for riding on pavement in the city, or unlocked for a smooth, suspension-aided ride down trails and dirt roads. It’s got 27 gears to the OG Paratrooper’s 24. Read the rest

With the App Store monopoly case, the Supreme Court could reverse decades of frustrated antitrust enforcement

On Monday, the Supreme Court will review the 9th Circuit's decision in Apple Inc. v. Pepper, in which the plaintiffs argue that Apple has established a monopoly over apps for Ios (this part is actually incontrovertible, as Apple has used both technology and law to prevent rival app stores from operating), and that Iphone and Ipad owners have a right to ask the government to break up this monopoly (that's the controversial part). Read the rest

The Kindle Oasis is stupid expensive and stupid lovely to use

I've mentioned it online before, but here we go: Two years ago, my wife and I decided to leave our rented home behind and move into a 40-foot RV. We spend our spring and summer in Alberta, Canada where she has a job for six months of the year working as an addictions counselor. The other half of the year, we head south to Mexico and beyond so that she can work as a dive Instructor.

This might be an excellent time to point out that my partner is far more interesting than I'll ever be.

We love this life, but it's not without its difficulties. We have all the repairs that come along with home ownership and owning a semi-truck, rolled into one. Our paychecks can sometimes take weeks to catch up to us, leaving us eating rice and beans. Again. But perhaps the worst thing about living in a motorhome, for us, is that we had to get rid of our book collection. Between us, we owned hundreds of books. We looked upon them as shelves of old friends who we could turn to, no matter what life brought us. But, sometimes, you have to leave old friends behind in order to grow. A motorhome can only carry so much weight, not to mention the limited amount of space that you'll find inside of one. We packed them up and took them to our favorite used bookstore where they'll, hopefully, find new homes.

When I'm not guest blogging here, part of my job is to review e-readers. Read the rest

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